Cast: Kirk Cameron | Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films | Running Time: 79 min |
2014 saw its fair share of Christspoiltation pictures from the likes of the fallacy-filled God’s Not Dead and the mushy shlock of Heaven is for Real. But Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas blows them all out of the water. Here is a religious film director that instead of firing his rifle towards the war of Christmas decides to turn the barrel down and shoot his own foot. Whereas these pictures usually tend to force in the idea that God is great to the ignorant atheists, Kirk Cameron attempts to strengthen the Christmas spirit for the Christians who despise it. One might figure he’s treading on safe ground considering he’s preaching to the choir, but his rationalizing for the religious context of modern Christmas is considerably laughable.
Cameron lays his cards out on the table with a fireside introduction. His house festooned in far too much Christmas decorations, he bursts at the seams for his love of his Christmas. In particular, he seems to adore hot chocolate to an absurd degree. And then he reaches the moment where he mentions that some people just don’t like Christmas. Who are these blasphemers? Could it be the liberal media or the aggressive atheists that seek to silence the celebration? No, it is the sheep within the flock that are taken aim at in this picture – the Christians that find themselves annoyed with Christmas and merely need a few illogical nudges to get in the mood.
Kirk Cameron’s sister is throwing a big Christmas party at her massive house for her family. The whole gang seems to be having fun except for Cameron’s stubborn brother-in-law Christian White (what a name). He becomes so uneasy with the Christmas atmosphere that he retreats to his car. Eager to bring joy to all, Kirk follows Christian into the car to ask what’s wrong. Christian airs his frustrations with the Christmas decorations being so counter to that of Christian values. For the next hour, Cameron proceeds to convince Christian that celebrating Christmas is more religious via absurd correlations and symbolism. We sometimes cut back inside to the party, but not too long as there is a black character speaking with a fast cliche tongue and a conspiracy theorist babbling on about the war on Christmas.
While the majority of the movie takes place inside a car, there are visual bits to represent Cameron’s ramblings in relating Christmas to Christian history. Sometimes they’re assembled with class, as with the story of the original Santa Clause. Other times it appears cheap when the production swaps the Garden of Eden for a Christmas tree lot. Cameron’s narration at one point states that he’s going for more of a Lord of the Rings vibe in portraying Santa. I’m not sure what he was intending with the Christmas tree lot other than an inconsistent production.
As if the movie wasn’t already struggling to stretch its limited premise, the ending is padded out with an extended dance sequence and too many mid-credit bloopers. This format makes the 79 minute run time feel longer than it should be, most likely leading many viewers to making the wrap-it-up motion with their hands towards the end. Did Cameron really think Christians all across the nation would get a massive kick out of his family’s dance moves? Why not just show family home videos at that point? It’s just as relatable.
At a time when Christian movies seem to have a large appeal, Saving Christmas appears strangely niche. It only had a two-week limited engagement in movie theaters in 2014. That’s rather strange given how many Christian movies stuck around in the box office for a long time during that year. When the movie was savaged by critics – and I do mean EVERY critic – Cameron called on his legion of fans to offset online ratings by giving the movie a positive review. The plea was not met well and the ratings dropped further among users. Either there is some big Christmas hate going around or maybe, just maybe, Cameron made a bad movie.
Kirk Cameron then dubbed all those that delivered negative reviews as views of “haters and atheists” conspiring on the internet. I don’t exactly consider myself either, but I do find it funny how he slapped together a poorly executed Christmas defense movie with his friends and expected everyone in America to love it. Maybe I am a hater if I just don’t find any intelligence in comparing stacks of Christmas presents to the houses of Jerusalem. I don’t even want to know what he equates hot chocolate to in the Bible.